Priyanka Chopra Jonas paid back a production what it spent on her after she backed out just two days into filming due to the “dehumanizing” way she was treated by a director.
The Citadel star spoke about why she made the decision to pay out of her own pocket after the experience in a recent story for The Zoe Report. The interview saw the Love Again star talking about her marriage to Nick Jonas and their shared work ethic, the challenges of breaking into the American entertainment industry and her production company’s two not-yet-announced projects for Amazon that had started their writers rooms but are now on pause amid the strike.
At one point in the discussion, Chopra Jonas broaches an experience she’d previously written about in her memoir Unfinished. It involved a director on one of her earliest Bollywood projects around 2002 or 2003, and a role in which the new-to-the-industry talent played a woman undercover.
“I’m undercover, I’m seducing the guy — obviously that’s what girls do when they’re undercover. But I’m seducing the guy, and you have to take off one piece of clothing [at a time],” she recalled. “I wanted to layer up. The filmmaker was like, ‘No, I need to see her underwear. Otherwise, why is anybody coming to watch this movie?‘”
Chopra Jonas clarifies that the director didn’t make the comment directly to her but in front of her to her stylist, who the director had said to call on the phone for a recommendation. At the time, she had posed a question to the director about whether she should start the scene in more layers so she’s she wouldn’t end up bare skinned too quickly, according to her memoir.
Still, it “was such a dehumanizing moment. It was a feeling of, I’m nothing else outside of how I can be used, my art is not important, what I contribute is not important,” she said.
That prompted her to quit the project after just two days of work, but now the actress says she paid the production back out of her own pocket for what they’d spent on her, “at her father’s urging,” according to The Zoe Report. “I just couldn’t look at him every day,” she said of her decision.
In the 2021 memoir, according to the Hindustan Times, the actress alleged that he made the unnamed director livid, and he “agitated” to the sets of another film she was on, with a co-star having to interven on her behalf.
“I was ready to go full-out as a temptress in the number,” she said of her time on that initial film. “The director’s words and tone, though, conveyed that he regarded me in a way that I found unacceptable.”